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Madness, Language, Literature

Newly published lectures by Foucault on madness, literature, and structuralism.
Perceiving an enigmatic relationship between madness, language, and literature, French philosopher Michel Foucault developed ideas during the 1960s that are less explicit in his later, more well-known writings. Collected here, these previously unpublished texts reveal a Foucault who undertakes an analysis of language and experience detached from their historical constraints. Three issues predominate: the experience of madness across societies; madness and language in Artaud, Roussel, and Baroque theater; and structuralist literary criticism. Not only do these texts pursue concepts unique to this period such as the “extra-linguistic,” but they also reveal a far more complex relationship between structuralism and Foucault than has typically been acknowledged.

240 pages | 6 x 9 | © 2023

The Chicago Foucault Project

Literature and Literary Criticism: General Criticism and Critical Theory

Philosophy: Ethics, General Philosophy, History and Classic Works


“Reverberations from the forceful impact of Foucault’s thought were first felt by Anglophone readers in the mid-1960s almost entirely through his writings on madness and literature. This new volume gathers several previously unpublished or untranslated texts from this decade on these very themes. Readers will be delighted to revisit or perhaps even indulge for the very first time those ideas and analyses with which Foucault forever shook the future of philosophy."

Colin Koopman, University of Oregon

“The essays collected in this book are as urgent today as they were fifty years ago: provocative, generative, and timely. Each is a bridge connecting Foucault’s histories of the modern subject to different fields of inquiry, from literature to structuralism to the philosophy of J. L. Austin. Anyone interested in literary theory, early modern history, or continental philosophy and its relation to the analytic tradition will find these essays by turns revelatory and inspiring.”

Richard Neer, University of Chicago

Table of Contents

A Note on the Text
Introduction by Judith Revel

Lectures and Writings on Madness, Language, and Literature
1. Madness and Civilization
2. Madness and Civilization (Presentation Given at the Club Tahar Haddad, Tunis, April 1967)
3. Madness and Society
4. Literature and Madness (Madness in Baroque Theater and the Theater of Artaud)
5. Literature and Madness (Madness in the Work of Raymond Roussel)
6. Phenomenological Experience: Experience in Bataille
7. The New Methods of Literary Analysis
8. Literary Analysis
9. Structuralism and Literary Analysis (Presentation Given at the Club Tahar Haddad, Tunis, February 4, 1967)
10. [The Extralinguistic and Literature]
11. Literary Analysis and Structuralism
12. Bouvard and Pécuchet: The Two Temptations
13. The Search for the Absolute


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